Each of us has a personal shopping style that influences how we buy groceries. Many people shop for food on a specific day of the week, while others make the trip whenever they need something. Some people look forward to grocery shopping and time away from work and family, while others consider it a troublesome chore. But no matter how you feel about grocery shopping, if you want to save money you’ll need to break some common money-wasting habits. Wholesale food prices rose by almost 8 percent in 2011 and are expected to rise by an estimated 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2012, so even small changes will have a big impact.
Undertanding Grocery Store Marketing
With staples like coffee, vegetables and flour seeing steep price increases, breaking bad shopping habits begins by understanding the marketing that may be influencing your decisions. Supermarkets are designed to encourage impulse spending. They’re specifically setup to sell ‘extra’ items that you had no intentions of buying when you arrived. The layout is intended to expose you to more products, influence traffic flow and encourage you to discover new and specialty items. And while it may seem innocent enough, if you’re not aware of the enticing nature of product placement, you may find yourself spending more than your budget allows.
Begin breaking the habit of mindlessly meandering through the aisles by learning to be more conscientious of the environment and being more deliberate when shopping. Being purposeful in your choices will not only save money, but it will help you bring home healthier options.
Other Tips to Avoid Needless Spending
- Travel the outside perimeter of the store where the fresh produce, meat and dairy are located.
- Beware of the end-caps, the displays at the end of each aisle. These spots are notoriously designed to lure you to buy. Never assume that items in these displays are discounted.
- Avoid impulse purchases. Not every sale item is a deal. If it’s something that you normally buy, take advantage of the discount. But if it’s not, consider whether it will be a wise purchase.
- If you need only one – buy only one! If an item is advertised in multiples, i.e., four limes for $.99 and only you one – buy only one for $.25. The discount applies regardless of the amount you purchase.
- Check the deli where you can buy just the amount you need at a lower in price than prepackaged lunch meats that may go to waste.
- Fresh is best but frozen is better than canned. Buy frozen vegetables rather than canned for economical reasons and freshness. Even if it costs more, being able to adjust for the appropriate amount you need is far better than throwing away an opened canned of uneaten food.
- Make more meals from scratch. Many bottled and canned products are simple to make, like salad dressing, spaghetti sauce, etc.
- Use more generic items like spices, oatmeal, etc. for even bigger savings.
While grocery shopping is a necessity, make it an adventure. Plan ahead, make a list and experiment in the kitchen. Home-cooking is not only more nutritious but costs less. You may be surprised to find that you love working in the kitchen and creating delicious meals at a fraction of the price of going out.
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